Updated: Nov 19, 2020
As of today, the human world population has reached 7.8 billion. This is the outcome of the fastest multiplication of this species in the past century. How come we have swelled so fast? What are the motives behind it? Why world leaders do not talk about this as a threat to climate and civilization as we know it?
At the turn of 18OO’s, our population was around 1 billion and then in 130 years we hit another billion (1930), and amazingly the next billion came within the next 30 years (1960), fourth in 15 and fifth in just 13 years (1987).
The planet can’t cope with it. We are adding 83 million people to the earth each year. The naturalist, David Attenborough, once surprisingly found the most amazing creature in the world, which was a nine-month-old human baby. In due course of time, he has changed his opinion and now believes that the planet can’t sustain many more.
Sir David Attenborough has been very vocal about the population bomb on many occasions. In his opinion, women of the world should get educated more about this issue. I think he’s right! The more women get properly educated about their bodies, the more they will be aware of this problem.
In the developed world the population growth in some countries is quite reasonable. As a consequence, the country needs immigrants. In Japan, the population growth rate is negative, and the government has done certain measures to encourage younger couples to have more kids. Despite that, young people over there don’t want to have kids.
In older days people used to have more kids per couple because many won’t survive due to diseases, they need more hands to work on farms or work for their respective governments. The invention of antibiotics in the early 20th century has decreased the infant mortality rate. Parents now don’t have to worry about early childhood deaths just due to a persistent fever etc.
In the developed world, After World War 2 when women have also joined the workforce of all sectors, they intended to have fewer kids. The reason was simpler: nobody was at home to take care of the kids; women started getting more educated and aware of their reproductive health. It isn’t true for all families though; most religious people believed that considering family planning is a sin and to be selfish towards God.
In the developing world, the story is different. Since ancient times, the fertility of the couple is associated with good fate and the only way to move forward in society as a “unit” is to have kids and keep having them. Women who can’t have kids were looked down upon and the situation has changed little. Ironically, even women have been seen to walk out of the marriage if the couple can’t have babies.
In the past and I would say even in these modern times, it is affiliated with the sexual health of the couple – the more the merrier. Some even thought that if we reproduced more, nobody can eliminate us as a nation. As they say, the majority is authority, increase your number and you are going to dominate the world.
Maybe it is true in some regards, but what about the resources, so many mouths to feed. If, by any chance, suppose the feeding needs are met, aren’t we putting stress on the land? If somehow we manage to take care of our physical health, What about our emotional well-being and mental health?
In some countries, the kids' mortality rate is alarmingly high. They are dying of mere hunger. The world health organization along with others trying to help, but nobody can help you if you can’t help yourselves. Now the WHO, through extensive research and data, concluded that we don’t need extra calories to combat malnutrition in these countries, but mere proper nutrients.
The distributions of resources in certain countries are uneven and people dip into perpetual poverty only because of having more and more kids. Over and above in some cases, there is a customary tradition of polygamy, which just produces more kids. People insist that this is usual to have more kids, no matter how undernourished, unloved, or vulnerable they will remain. The traditions, cultural practices, lack of proper education, and blaming others for lack of resources move them into uncharted territory. They not only put their health at risk but also give their communities very bleak futures merely by just adding more heads.
With low life expectancies in the underdeveloped world, people are obliged to have more kids and putting everything at stake. They and their respective countries enter into such a vicious circle from which it’s harder for them even to realize that it can be reversed just by not having more.
The over farming and brutal cutting of trees has put tremendous stress on our mother earth, and it is visibly evident now. Now the religious authorities, for example, the Pope has said recently that CoVID-19 is the result of a disturbance in the ecology cycle. With today’s population, we need 1.5 earths to support us and when it will reach 9 billion in 2050, the world needs at least 3 earths.
We have seen that the best of the health systems of the world, like that of Italy, has been overwhelmed just by the number of COVID-19 patients. People have died in their homes. 40 to 45 doctors died in Italy. Moreover, people died alone. The USA death toll is surging - higher than Italy, as I ‘m writing. In the UK, NHS workers are begging people to stay at home so that they can efficiently and effectively do their jobs, i.e to save lives.
The Australian Bushfires were the worst in decades. The ocean temperatures are rising. Even if we are planning to nurse more Carol reefs but due to high temperatures they are bleaching which eventually results in their deaths. Floods and drought are happening frequently and with great vigor.
We all are sharing this earth with other species and we are killing them, destroying their habitats. We as humans have no regard for other species, except for ourselves. The coronavirus pandemic in this modern era is a slap in our faces. Mother earth is warning us, whatever the race, religion, age, ethnicity or creed, she will kill without mercy. Our over-consumption and overpopulation both are key in getting us here, where we are today.
One row about population growth is to bring economic growth, but the most prosperous of the countries have a very low birth rate, what would be said about this then? The prosperous families mostly have one or two kids, because the issues are not just financial resources for them, but time management, emotional support, etc.
The developed countries can have more younger people by bringing immigrants, but what about the overall numbers which we are adding up to the planet Earth. New research is showing that the world population will stop growing by 2100 when it will reach approximately 10 billion; which is roughly the carrying capacity of the earth for our species. The world fertility rate will drop from 2.9 per woman to 1.9 per woman. But will it be not too late! Do we have 90 more years to sustain?
We are exceeding our limits of using the earth resourcing; our global footprint to sustain the economy is exceeded by 60 %. So in a way we are decreasing the earth carrying capacity. How can we judge when we will run out of the resources, may it be sooner rather than later. After all, Liebig’s Law (another foundation of ecology) tells us that growth limits are set not by total resources available, but by the single scarcest necessary resource. We have nine planetary boundaries: climate change, ocean acidification, biosphere integrity, biochemical flows, land-system change, freshwater use, stratospheric ozone depletion, atmospheric aerosol loading, and the introduction of novel entities into environments. We are currently exceeding the “safe” marks for the four of these boundaries.
Undernourishment, high infant mortality rates, floods, inner conflicts, countries try to take advantage of other countries’ miseries, temperatures of Oceans rising, and for what, only because we need more resources to fulfill the needs of billions.
Maybe we still have hope; we can try to decrease the burden by cutting off on the growth of the population. Each married couple can have one or two kids. Nature does not realize which country is more populous so it will be destroyed and the less populous will be left alone to flourish.
If you want to give something to the younger generation, decrease the population. I think it will dramatically shift the ecology in favor of other species. It reminds me of a documentary narrated by Sir David in which he showed that how blue whales are now coming towards the visitors for patting whenever they visit them in open waters after we have stopped killing them. These are the same “blue whales” which man used to hunt for oils and other things. If we can save them from extinction, the same can be done for our species; but in our case, we have to reduce our numbers first.